Death row prisoner’s hunger strike
Death row defendant Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan, transferred to solitary confinement on July 21 in the supermax Ohio State Penitentiary, remains on hunger strike. Twenty-five years after the Lucasville prison rebellion, Imam Hasan, Keith Lamar, Namer Mateen, George Skatzes and Jason Robb are still imprisoned and under death sentence. Most of these five attempted to negotiate during the uprising and helped prevent additional loss of life.
The 1993 Lucasville Uprising took place at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility where incarcerated people were struggling with overcrowding; guard violence and guard-instigated, inmate-on-inmate violence; poor sanitation, food and health care; and limits on how they could talk to loved ones by phone. (For more background, see Workers World, April 10.)
Twenty-five years later, these issues are the same ones highlighted in the upcoming National Prison Strike, called by incarcerated people for Aug. 21 through Sept. 9. The dates mark the state killing of Black Panther organizer George Jackson in California’s San Quentin Prison and the Attica Prison uprising in New York state. (See “Prisoners call for national strike,” Workers World, July 29)
The text below is drawn from a press release issued by a network of support for Imam Hasan. To participate in “phone zap” actions for the Imam, go to tinyurl.com/ydhb48xm.
“Youngstown, Ohio — Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan has been refusing food since the morning of July 28 in protest of a conduct report and new restrictions on his confinement. A conduct report is a summary of an alleged violation committed by a prisoner. (A copy of the report is available at tinyurl.com/y7pogrsc.)
“The charges against the Imam include rioting or participating in a riot — though no riot occurred. The conduct report will be reviewed by a Serious Misconduct Panel, which will then make recommendations to the Chief of the Bureau of Classification, Brian Wittrup. However, Brian Wittrup is also the author of the conduct report.
“‘This is the equivalent of a prosecutor first arguing a case, and then putting on a judge’s robes to determine the sentence,’ said Ben Turk, a supporter named in the conduct report who will testify before the panel. ‘There can be no justice in such an arrangement.’
“The conduct report primarily stems from Turk attempting to send publicly available documents about the upcoming national prison strike to Imam Hasan. The prison mailroom intercepted and confiscated the paper copy of these documents, but not the copy sent through the JPay email system. (A copy of the seized material is available at tinyurl.com/yc53grnl.)
“Imam Hasan has stated he regards the seizure as an infringement of his First Amendment rights, as well as that of his supporters. He intends to pursue remedy through the courts. A determined human rights advocate, Hasan has engaged in many hunger strikes over his years at the supermax prison. His commitment to justice and the assertion of his rights in this matter is strong.
“Supporters encourage people to protest the Imam’s treatment by calling Director Gary Mohr, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 614-387-0588.”